I think the problem in today’s world is that we no longer know how to see.
I. I’m the worst addict
I know for myself, I used to be addicted to my phone. Always checking my Gmail, scrolling through Instagram on the toilet, and constantly assaulting my eyeballs with a stream of sterile information via blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.
The more I used my phone, the less I saw the world. I was so bubbled up in my 4-inch screen, that I couldn’t see the vast panoramic beauty of reality outside of my black mirror.
II. Blinded by my black mirror.
I started to notice I saw fewer photos. I felt blinded.
I stopped using my phone. I tried keeping it in airplane mode, or off.
I had a revelation: I started to see again.
For example, I started to go to the bathroom without a phone. I started to notice the textures of the wall, and actually let my mind wander. Now when I go to the bathroom, I have all these new ideas and mini epiphanies.
I’m addicted to information, but the problem was that my eyeballs were always being distracted by gear reviews (The Verge, Engadget, Techcrunch), or I would notice how Amazon would subtly create false desires to buy more shit (via book recommendations in Kindle, and also product recommendations).
I stopped using my smartphone. I started to actually see more interesting opportunities for photography.
III. Channeling my inner-child
I was most inspired by my niece, Amelia. When she doesn’t have the iPad glued to her face, she is curious. She looks at the world with wonderment and awe. She touches leaves. She looks down on the floor, and plays with tiny rocks. She is my biggest inspiration.
I think every photographer would benefit to see more photos by using less technology. I know it has helped me.
IV. Shoot photos in airplane mode.
A lot of us shoot with our phones, and I think it is good.
My simple suggestion:
When you are shooting photos with your phone, keep your phone in airplane mode.
This will allow you to focus on making photos, and not being interrupted by having someone call your camera (thanks to Sheldon Serkin for the idea).
Another option: buy an iPod touch, and you can still shoot with the camera on it, without getting distracted by the phone functions on an iPhone. It is great, you can buy a cheap model for $200 with a good camera.
I know myself. I am a sucker for technology, and I have no self restraint or control. So for me, I need to subtract the phone from my life completely, to not get distracted. I still have a mobile device, but no SIM card.
V. To see more, use less technology
Don’t listen to me. Just do what works for you.
But I you have a hard time seeing interesting photo opportunities, just ask yourself:
What blinking lights are my eyeballs distracted by?
To see more photo opportunities, use less technology.
Channel your inner child, and treat photography just like playing, on your visual jungle gym.